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What’s Really Driving the Great Resignation?

UC Berkeley Professor Says “It’s Time To See Beyond the Obvious”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA / ACCESSWIRE / February 14, 2022 / It’s hard to read the news without seeing numerous headlines focused on the top reasons workers are leaving jobs and how managers need to respond. Research published in the MIT Sloan Review highlights contributing factors such as toxic work culture, job insecurity, burnout, and poor response to COVID-19.

Erica Peng, Professor at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and executive leadership coach, asserts that while these factors must be addressed, solving external conditions is an incomplete and inadequate approach. “What’s missing is the neuroscience underlying this mass exodus of workers. People all over the world are in a heightened state of “fight-or-flight” behavior from an ongoing crisis. The brain perceives a threat to survival in conditions of uncertainty, loss of control, and unfairness. For many, this is daily life now.”

Peng explains even when there is no actual physical danger; the body prepares to protect and defend itself. “We lash out, shut down, have more road rage. The nervous system also kicks in unconscious strategies in an attempt to calm the body’s threat response. We exert control; we resist control. We fight or flee situations that feel unsafe or toxic.”

As the American business landscape continues to evolve in 2022, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company says it is vital that leaders demonstrate empathy and receive it from others. UC Berkeley’s Peng agrees. “Workers need flexibility – and empathy – from managers to deal with the second year of turmoil. Yet, their needs may be experienced as threats; they add to the uncertainty and loss of control managers and leaders are already dealing with.”

Yet Peng sees hope. For the past decade, she has applied her Designed For Connection methodology, a step-by-step roadmap based on neuroscience experiential approaches to help leaders access a bigger picture perspective and see beyond the obvious.

Leaders learn how to interrupt and calm fight-or-flight reactivity, extend empathy, and rebuild trust after inevitable breakdowns. Peng says, “A lightbulb goes off when leaders realize how much time and energy they spend dealing with unchecked fight-or-flight reactivity – in themselves and within teams. They are motivated to do something about it, especially now with constant upheaval.”

The Great Resignation is redefining American business culture. Corporations are restructuring, and startups are launching at a record pace. At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and as an executive coach, Peng trains new leaders who will take charge of the American workplace. “My purpose right now is helping leaders build thriving relationships and teams that can recover from unconscious reactivity and conflict. So they can get on with creating possibility amidst the most pressing conditions of our time.”


Erica Peng Connects goes beyond crisis management. Proven tools and strategies help leaders navigate unconscious fight-or-flight reactivity and rebuild trust and collaboration after inevitable breakdowns. Erica Peng is an executive leadership coach and Professor at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. An expert on human dynamics, leadership, and team development, founder and lead coach Erica Peng helps business leaders and social entrepreneurs build thriving relationships and teams that can recover from inevitable conflict and crisis. Peng has an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University with Phi Beta Kappa honors, and earned a Master’s in Psychology with a focus on Organizational Development from Sonoma State University. For more information, visit Erica Peng Connects at


Erica Peng
[email protected]

SOURCE: Erica Peng Connects

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